Pavel K Baev
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
There is far more to this thoughtful book than recounting the two extraordinary years in President Trump's disagreeable National Security Council or reflecting on the professional journey that in early 2017 took an unexpected turn to the highest echelon of US policy-making. Hill starts, with a slight touch of irony, from the moment that made her an instant media celebrity – the impeachment hearings in the US Congress – but her main aim in this personalised but deeply analytical investigation is to explore the roots and drivers of the severe political polarization that continues to distort US politics and polity. She focuses on the plight of people stuck in the towns that have lost their identity-underpinning industries and takes a cue from the old advice from her father, which prompted her to get on the long road – and makes the title of the book. The sociological insights are sharp and solid, but it is the points like 'I felt white-hot with sympathetic rage' (p. 299) that make the narrative so engaging. A reader can trace how inequality, unemployment and hopelessness breed populism, which is exploited by cynical politicians who care only about expanding this angry support base. Hill admits that she was naïve to take the job in Trump's White House in order to serve the country and counter Russian interference in US elections. She was disappointed but refuses to be disillusioned about the need to address frustrations of forgotten people. Her antidote to populism is building an infrastructure of opportunity on the foundation of wider access to quality education, and everybody – from a corporate boss to a student – has a task to perform.